Top Creative Salary and Hiring Trends For 2019

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By Diane Domeyer, Executive Director, The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms.

Creative managers should always have a grasp of the latest hiring and compensation trends in their field. And that goes double in times of low unemployment for people with essential skills, such as tech-savvy designers. To recruit top talent and retain your current superstars, you need to know what workers want, how to attract them and what to offer them as compensation.

The Creative Group 2019 Salary Guide offers the inside scoop on what’s driving design professionals today — and the best practices for recruiting and hiring them. To help get you started, here are some insights from this valuable resource:

  1. Look For Digital Savvy. Technology in the design field is evolving at breakneck speed, and you need people who know how to keep up with the evolution. However, 71 percent of creative and marketing managers surveyed for the Salary Guide say it’s challenging to find talent with up-to-date digital skills. To build a team that can capitalize on the latest tools and technologies, focus on hiring professionals who are proficient in not just the most common design software, but also digital strategy, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, data analytics and search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing (SEM). As cutting edge quickly becomes old school, your team should also be passionate about staying up to date on the latest advancements.
  2. Focus On Staffing A Well-rounded Team, Not Hiring Unicorns. When filling a job vacancy, consider your current staff’s skill set, and use that information to help you decide which abilities are vital and which are negotiable. For example, a stellar web designer has a great feel for user interface (UI) and seems like a perfect with fit your corporate culture — but doesn’t have the level of web analytics you seek. If you already have an SEO specialist or content strategist on staff, go ahead and make an offer. Training new hires in a technical area is not difficult, but it’s much harder to find top talent who fits so well with your team.
  3. Hire Faster And Offer A Competitive Package. Highly skilled creative pros typically receive multiple offers, and smart managers know to act fast when an impressive candidate comes along. This means not lowballing or holding back in preparation for a protracted salary negotiation. Instead, dazzle your dream hire with a package that includes above-average wages and the most-wanted perks, such as flextime, telecommuting and other alternative work arrangements.The 2019 Salary Guide includes detailed starting wage ranges for 85 positions in the creative industry, which you can adjust for your local market by using the salary calculator. Here are the starting salary midpoints (or median national salaries) for the most in-demand creative positions in the coming year:
  • Content strategist — $73,000
  • Digital marketing manager — $79,500
  • Digital strategist — $77,500
  • Email marketing specialist — $53,750
  • Front-end web developer — $79,250
  • Marketing analytics manager — $93,250
  • SEO/SEM specialist — $62,500
  • Social media manager — $57,750
  • UI designer — $80,000
  • UX designer — $93,500
  1. Use Offline Hiring Strategies. Online job boards and social media are useful tools when you want to cast a wide net, but don’t rely entirely on a digital-only recruiting process. In-person networking can get you in touch with passive job seekers — employed professionals who won’t necessarily see your job posting but would leave their current position if an exciting opportunity came along. Also consider working with a creative recruiter who has access to a deep pool of already-vetted professionals in your area.
  2. Don’t Forget Retention. Most turnover on creative teams occurs among entry-level employees, who cite limited opportunities and boredom as reasons for leaving. To avoid this, be sure to reward creativity and risk-taking, and invest in each worker’s professional growth and development. Regularly check in with your staff — both newer hires and long-timers — to make sure they’re still satisfied in their current roles.

Talented designers know what they’re worth; it’s essential that managers do, too. By understanding the latest hiring and compensation trends, you can attract and retain the creative team you need to reach more consumers and gain greater market share.